Hidden Hills History with The PLAYERS

Located at one of the highest elevations in Jacksonville, FL and being an Arnold Palmer signature designed course, Hidden Hills has an impressive history.

Built in 1966 with one of the most unique golfing challenges in Florida, the Hidden Hills 6,892-yard course boasts a thrilling history when it comes to Jacksonville’s evolution into a premier Florida golf destination.

Now, flashback to the 1950’s, before Jacksonville became the major golfing center it is today. The Greater Jacksonville Open did not exist, and the Tournament Players Championship had not yet come onto the scene. There is no doubt that golf diversity very much existed in the community at that time, yet there was no organization, tournament or single activity that brought the golfing community together into one cohesive group.

At the time, what did exist was several different factions in golf, with as many factions as there were players. On both the Northside and Westside sat two city-owned courses, Brentwood and Hyde Park. Then, there was Beauclerc Country Club, and even a course at NAS Jacksonville (yes, the U.S. Navy even added to the mix) available to military and guests. With only three private clubs, San Jose and Beauclerc on the Southside, Timuquana on the Westside and the famous resort course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club built in 1928, the mix proved difficult to determine a Jacksonville city golf champion.

With no universal competition to induce the involvement of all clubs, something had to be done, but  it was clear by the 1960s that it was going to take a few more years to get complete participation from all members. It wasn’t easy!

The final breakthrough came in 1965, just one year before Hidden Hills debuted as a premier, private golf course. Through the efforts of many invested citizens led by Robert Feagin, now known as the founder of the Greater Jacksonville Open and John Tucker, JAGA President from 1965-1967, a first-rate professional golf tournament was planned and held for the first time in Jacksonville at Selva Marina Country Club in 1965, now known as Atlantic Beach Country Club. The event was held there until 1967, after which it moved to Deerwood Country Club.

After three successful years at Deerwood, the event then moved to the newly-built course of Hidden Hills Golf and Country Club. Hidden Hills would provide better tournament facilities and sponsor spaces for businesses to host customers, a practice that became a standard in future golf tournaments.

The Greater Jacksonville Open tournament, the precursor to THE PLAYERS Championship, was held at Hidden Hills for 3 consecutive years (1970-1972), with featured winners of the tournament including Gary Player, Tony Jacklin and Don January, before moving to its current location, Sawgrass — but not before securing its name in TPC history.

From its championship tees to its majestic pines and oak-lined fairways, Hidden Hills is a true tournament course, even years after its Greater Jacksonville Open tenure.  A location sculpted into a hilly terrain with elevation and rolling fairways not typically seen in Florida, this historic course is still one of the most unique in North Florida.